Human Cloning
Moral and Philosophical Considerations

Philosophical Considerations

Let us assume for the sake of discussion that it would be possible to clone humans by the method which produced Dolly the sheep. We ask whether the Creator would then create a soul to enliven the fused human cell. The answer is likely to be yes. God usually prefers to remain hidden so as not to deprive us of freedom to believe in Him or to refuse belief. He hides Himself from our eyes in this life so that our faith remains voluntary and free. It was St. Augustine who once said that if at the time of Baptism God would make the body immortal while He cleanses the soul of Original Sin, everyone would flock to Baptism, and faith would become too much like vision. We might reason that if God would not create souls when humans sin, when they fornicate, or commit rape, or do cloning, He would force our faith. He remains hidden to enable our faith to be free. St. Thomas Aquinas also observed that the natural process of conception proceeds as usual even after adultery because the sin of the free will does not become part of the biological process. The child remains innocent of the sin, he assures us (see Summa Contra Gentiles, II,89,16).

We may assume, I believe, that God would create souls for clones if technicians present viable biological materials. God does not usually stop evil by intervening visibly. He asks us to desist from doing evil in the first place. Dr. Luc Gormally, Director of the Linacre Centre, London, observes that when human biological materials are all in place, they are in a condition ready to receive a rational soul (Dolentium Hominum 28 (1995) pp. 27-31).

Cloners are technological rapists. Sex rapists seek gratification through brute force against hapless victims. Technological rapists gratify an irresponsible lust for power by manufacturing children who have no parents. It is impossible to clone in a manner by which they can give a father and a mother to the child. A cloned child would have no father, no mother. It would be an orphan. It is a product of technology. Microscopes and pincettes are not parents. But every child has a right to parents; it is a universal right.

Whether the cloner seeks to produce a super race by eugenic improvement; whether narcissistic impulses drive him to reproduce his own precious self; whether he intends to provide entertainers, sports champions, literary geniuses, even a population of Einsteins for human welfare, he wrongs the child whom he manipulates to achieve a child clone. A cloned child is a slave produced for the good of others, not for its own good. It is treated like property managed for the benefit of others. It is not treated with the dignity of a human being who belongs to himself and to God, but to no other human person. This is the heart of the matter. As philosopher John Crosby writes:

Human beings are never rightly owned as mere property, but should be recognized as individuals who each has a certain ownership of his or her own being...It is in virtue of our personhood that we can never be used or owned... Each human person is a subject of rights. To violate another's basic human rights is to invade the sphere of what is his own; a person has rights because he belongs to himself (John F. Crosby, "Human Person" in Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine,p. 307).

There are a myriad other philosophical and social reasons against cloning, including laws about inheriting properties from parents, laws about nationality by birth, undetermined relationship with siblings, and laws against commercial traffic in human beings. Cloning for profit could become a huge business. Just select your preferences from the catalogue and pay up.

If cloning were done it would radically exploit women, evaluating their worth by genes, ova and wombs. The Pontifical Academy for Life observed that the basic relationships of the human person would be subverted, namely "filiation, consanguinity, kinship, parenthood. A woman can be the twin sister of her mother, lack a biological father and be the daughter of her grandmother." ("Human Cloning is Immoral" July 9 1997, see The Pope Speaks, 1998, p. 29). Moreover "there will be a growing conviction that the value of man and woman does not depend on their personal identity but only on those biological qualities that can be appraised and therefore selected." The cloners would be expecting the desired results from their clone, "and this would constitute a true and proper attack on his personal subjectivity" (p. 30). When the Pontifical Academy for Life met again in February 1998, they again issued a complete condemnation of efforts to clone human beings (CWNEWS, 3/3/98).

The prime and non-negotiable reason against cloning is that this method of bringing people to life is contrary to the dignity and rights of a human being. Each person is a subject with rights, who exists for himself, not for exploitation by others. He is one single sovereign personality. He is an image of God who is Personal Existence. The Lord God says "I am who am." His image, the human person says: "I am me, I am myself. You can't own me, because I own myself, and I'm not for sale." Cloning is as wrong as slavery.

Theological Considerations

The procreation of a new human being is a partnership project; humans work in partnership with God. Unless God gives consent to the action, the human partners act against their divine Partner. God does not consent to human cloning. His rule is: "Thou shalt not bring children to life except through a father and a mother joined in matrimony." We believe this in the light of our own insight into what is right and wrong; we believe it also because the Church teaches this evident truth.

Whether cloning is right or wrong depends not on whether it can be done or undone. Cloners are subject to God just as every other human being is subject to Him. Because we are not God, we dare not defy Him by manipulating human life in a manner contrary to His will.

The Bible tells us how God created Adam: "The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Gen 2:7). God created would-be cloners in the same way. They will all die tomorrow, as Adam died yesterday.

After they die, cloners would will have no paid attorneys to defend their action against God the Judge. Escape from God they cannot. God will ask them, as He asked Adam: "What did you do?" That's when every cloner will have to give an account of himself.

Even if cloning were 100% successful; even if cloners would not kill ten or a hundred or a thousand young lives in unsuccessful attempts, but would succeed every time; even so, cloning would always be a transgression against God's law. And whatever is done against God's law damages human society in the long run. All of God's laws undergird the welfare of the human race.

God made us for Himself, not for indulging a lust for power of play-boy scientists, nor for profit-making by clone dealers. God made us for Himself, to live here for Him, to live hereafter with Him. To start us on our way, He wants us to be born of a father and a mother into a loving family circle, there to give us a fair start on our journey toward heaven.

Our Souls, Made for God, Are Not for Sale

We cannot see our souls, cannot feel them, cannot weigh them. But God made our souls so robust that no power on earth can destroy them. The ball on a wrecker's crane cannot smash them. An atomic reactor cannot melt them down. Like Daniel and his companions, our souls can dance and sing even in a super-heated furnace.

Can our souls do anything in this life which is pure soul-action, independent of joint action together with the body? In one sense, yes. We do it all the time. We think without the body, then use the brain as a movie screen on which to project our thoughts, to sort them out, to make them more visible and palpable. Our brain can't think by itself any more than a violin can play itself. A violin needs an artist to resonate sweet sounds, and our brain needs spiritual thoughts of the soul to do any thinking. Our brain then helps the soul to align its thoughts in proper order, especially through the faculty of human speech. Let us reflect for a few moments on the marvels of human speech.

When speaking, we maneuver our speech organs and send a pressured airstream through them which originates in the lungs and is issued under pressure generated by the diaphragm bellows and surrounding musculature. By varying the tension of our drawn vocal cords we set the pitch of the tone. When we qualify and format these tonal frequencies of intermittent air jets by shaping and resonating them within the supralaryngeal tract, and exit this speech-calibrated stream of air, our neighbor can comprehend the thought which is in our mind; that thought which the nerves of the brain have translated into electro-chemical signals, which our speech organs have released into the air as articulated air pressure variance signals. If the recipient knows the language of the speaker, these air pressure signals carry a semantic code for the listener. The people who know us even recognize the individual resonance and clipped articulation of our voice, which has our personal trademark.

What we do by speaking is nothing short of the phenomenal. Eric H. Lennenberg, when recording three radio newscasters, found that they spoke an average of 5.7, 5.9, and 6.0 syllables per second. For each syllable there are about 2.4 phonemes, distinguishable sound-coded identities; that totals about fourteen phonemes per second (6 X 2.4). All the while we form and reform our air passage to resonate and articulate the sound. The passage from one phoneme into another -- its onset, the phone itself, and then the subsequent transition -- depends ultimately upon the differences in muscle adjustments. The brain gives the muscles their proper orders to contract, to relax, or to hold their tonus. At least one hundred muscles are engaged simultaneously. The brain therefore sends these fourteen hundred orders per second to produce the phonemes in rapid succession to the targeted 100 engaged muscles (see Lennenberg, 91-92). If we admire piano virtuosos who can play 16-20 notes per second, all the more do we marvel our speech automatisms with which may be doing up to 1400 articulations per second with perfect ease - 70 times faster than the flying fingers of the piano virtuoso.

The brain does not just fire off the fourteen hundred orders per second at random. It issues the electro-chemical neural transmissions in that magnitude of power and that order of sequence at which we are giving command. The arrival of the nerve's electro-chemical transmission at the target muscle must be in proper sequence, and its strength must stimulate the correct amplitude of the twitch of that muscle. The brain fires the signals from its motor strip terminal in a flurry of activity, subject to our conscious will to speak. Because some muscles are more distant from the source than others, the sequence of firing may need to be timed in reverse. Moreover, some of the nerves are thick and blitz the signal to the target muscle at about three hundred miles per hour, whereas other extremely fine nerves send the signal at a leisurely walking pace of 1.5 miles per hour. The brain must compute for distance and speed by firing the signals to coordinate the pull of the muscles to be exactly on split-second schedule to produce speech in proper order. Sometimes things get mixed up or go awry, and the ear, which monitors what is happening, admonishes us to correct ourselves and repeat, this time correctly. The short term memory keeps constant tabs on the on-going conversation and keeps our thoughts connected.

We can do all this with apparent ease and embellish what we say with added elegance of sparkling eyes, smiling face, and lilting voice when we deliver pleasant thoughts. Or, we can express displeasure by making the voice grate and rasp, by curling the lips, tweaking the nose, arching the eyebrows, clenching the fists, bulging the neck, erecting the hair, flushing the face scarlet, and flashing bolts of lightning from the eyes. Whether we speak with cooing love or with a towering rage, we can authenticate our intended meaning with these additional signs of communication.

Of course the brain doesn't pioneer all this every time we initiate verbal conversation. The brain is not an amateur but a seasoned professional, performing well after much practice. Our speech capabilities began to develop early, taking off at high speed around the age of two. The wiring of the brain for language ability is perfected only gradually. We marvel at the great abilities of our human souls when we reflect upon the marvels of human speech.

The soul can do even more than thinking its own thoughts. The soul was made by God who is Spirit; by God who dwells within us, and communicates with us; we can hear what God speaks to our souls. He whispers to us His commandments, His endearing words of love. He sanctifies us with truth. Christ prayed for us at the Last Supper: "Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou has given me, that they may be one, even as we are one...Sanctify them in the truth. They word is truth." Animals cannot speak with God. We can. The Lord gave us souls by which He can sanctify us for eternal life.

God Made Us For Himself

Why did God make you and me? The Catechism tells us why. "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven." Away, then, with the manipulation of humans by cloning. We are made for God, not for a cloner's pleasure. Let's say it together to confound the cloners and to give honor to God. Answer the question altogether then, and loud as I ask it: Why did God make you: "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven." Thank you.


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